Speaking at the National Confectioners Association’s (NCA) State of the Industry Conference, Seth Mattison, ‘change agent’ for Bridgeworks, said that the Millennials consumed less candy than previous generations, but could be won over by shareable, interactive experiences and transparency.
An influential group
The Millennials are the most populace generation with 82 million of them in the US and they are expected to outpace the spending of Baby Boomers by 2015, said Mattison.
He said that the Millennials were a tribe connected on social media, which made them very influential.
Around three-quarters (72%) of this age group think it’s their duty to share a negative brand experience and 66% will look up a store recommended by a friend, he said.
To reach this group, candy makers need to be “curators of cool”, said Mattison. Companies should give brand ambassadors access to inside information; “information is key to influence,” he said.
Create shareable moments
He added that creating shareable moments would influence this generation to communicate with their peers and even with other generations on social media.
According to Mattison, The Millennials view brands as though they were a friend and will even act on a brand’s behalf. He gave Just Born's 'split of Mike and Ike' as an example of good practice on social media.
Bharat Puri, senior vice president of global chocolate for Mondelez International, said at the NCA conference: "We don't talk to consumers any more, we start conversations with them."
A shareable experience could be giving this age group the experience of candy making and billing the event as the search for the ‘next generation' of entrepreneurial Willy Wonkas, said Mattison.
But Mattison warned that Millennials had been subject to advertising overkill and would see straight through ingenuous communications and meagre promises. He said that they were a generation that wanted to make a difference and would promote and switch to brands seen as doing good.
On social media, candy companies should allow negative comments, but give a response, he said.
Nestle previously came under fire for deleting criticisms on its Facebook page. “You have to be totally transparent with this group,” said Mattison.
The Millennials generation want to be part of the creative process, he said. For example, Sour Jacks allowed Facebook fans to create the Sour Jacks character.
“Mobile games is a huge opportunity,” he added. For example, Kiip mobile app gives rewards of Skittles when players complete gaming tasks.
Reaching other generations requires a different tact, said Mattison.
Traditionalists, those born before the Second World War, will respond well to values such as family, legacy and history, while health and wellness and nostalgia would appeal to The Baby Boomers, born between 1946 and 1964, he said.
Generation Xs, those born between 1965-1981, are a sceptical, independent and entrepreneurial generation, said Mattison. Candy makers must “give it to them straight” and start conversation with Moms on whether candy leads to obesity to build trust, he said.